Ellen DeGeneres has a lot of ground to cover in the 19th and final season of her talk show, which she promises will be a “great celebration.”
He intends to greet his longtime fans, stroll through yesterday to revisit the first appearances of budding stars like Rihanna and Justin Bieber, celebrate his show’s accomplishments in show business, and more.
“This will be a ‘thank you’ to everyone, because the show is not carried out without the support of the fans,” DeGeneres said during a hiatus in production of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which returns to the screen.
Also to highlight: the philanthropy of the program, which included much more than product giveaways.
“We’re going to reach out to the people we’ve helped over the years (and) the people who have returned the favor,” DeGeneres said. That includes a Las Vegas educator who opened her own wallet for needy students and whose school was rewarded by the program with a new library and more resources.
That DeGeneres expresses such concern about the legacy of her greatest professional success to date may come as a surprise to a comedian whose motto is “be nice.” But it’s inevitable given allegations last year that labeled the show a toxic workplace.
Three of its producers left amid claims of an environment that harbored misconduct, including sexually inappropriate behavior and racially insensitive comments. DeGeneres,
who apologized to the air for “things that shouldn’t have happened,” also defended himself as the same genuine, albeit imperfect, person in front of and behind the cameras.
In a recent phone interview, she said she was reluctant to broach the situation further, and that the Warner Bros. production company had handled it.
DeGeneres had suffered a stroke before. In 1997, six years before her talk show debut in 2003, she and the character she played on her comedy series, “Ellen,” came out as gay. Amid falling ratings and reviews, ABC canceled the series in 1998.
The project that revived his career was seen as a long shot, said Bill Carroll, a syndication market analyst.
“There are two things he had to deal with,” he said. One, Oprah Winfrey’s status as the queen of morning talk shows; the other was a painful truth: compared to today, more Americans at that time were unacceptable or hostile toward LGBTQ people.
DeGeneres has spoken freely and openly about his life, including his marriage to actress Portia de Rossi. He has received accolades including several Emmys and the Mark Twain Award for American Humor from the Kennedy Center in 2015.
The comedian credits her work ethic and staying true to “exactly” who she is for helping her overcome the backlash that followed her coming out, and leaned on those pillars again when she and the show came under fire last year.
DeGeneres had famous supporters when the allegations surfaced last year, including Katy Perry and Kevin Hart, with some observers calling the criticism of the presenter misogynistic.
The audience for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” dropped substantially in the 2020-2021 season compared to the previous one, from 2.6 million viewers to 1.5 million, according to Nielsen. That’s common in an aging show, Carroll said, and it also reflects a shift in television and, to some extent, controversy in the workplace.
Its latest episodes, which are likely to be filled with stars and non-famous people who were part of the show, should allow the show to end with a spike in viewership.
The decision to end at 19 was hers, DeGeneres said, although the study urged her to continue and others criticized her willingness to retire without actually celebrating 20.
I think 19 is a great number. One is the beginning and nine is the end, ”said DeGeneres, the kind of whimsical dialogue he throws out with ease.
And what will come next for DeGeneres? His schedule is already full, with production deals including Fox’s “The Masked Dancer,” NBC’s “Ellen’s Game of Games,” and HBO Max’s “Ellen’s Next Great Designer.”
“I just want to drop down and breathe for a while, having nothing to do every day,” he said. But she’s already considering going back to her comedy and acting roots, and sought a consultation with Winfrey about her life after the talk show.
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DeGeneres says his show is “happy place” in last season